Earlier this week I shared a DIY tutorial on how to make kiddie chopsticks (which you can find HERE), and I mentioned that the ability to use tongs is a pre-scissors skill, and the ability to use scissors is a pre-writing skill. When kids use tongs, they have to learn to “separate” the two sides of their hands (thumb/index finger side and middle/ring/pinky finger side), and this is exactly what is needed in order to successfully operate both scissors and a pencil. Think about it…
Tong play can begin as early as toddlerhood (I love to give toddlers short salad tongs so they can use with their whole hand to start) and can progress to more refined use of kiddie chopsticks and tiny tweezers as kids progress through elementary school. It’s never too late to have fun with tongs!
Below you’ll find a list of 50 fun ways to play with tongs. Some are my ideas (which I’m sure have also been done by others) and the rest are the wonderful ideas of those who work with kids and have blogged about it — therapists, parents, teachers, daycare providers, and more. Be sure to submit other ideas for tongs/tweezers/chopsticks play in the comments section at the end of this post…we’d love to hear your ideas!
Practice Makes Perfect
1. Feed the Big Mouth Frog from Therapy Fun Zone
2. Tongs with Pipe Cleaners from Embrace Your Chaos
3. Candy, Tongs, and Suction Cups from Havin’ Fun Yet?
4. Beads with Suction Cups from PreKinders
5. Beads in a Paint Palette from PreKinders
6. Pom Poms with Tweezers in an Ice Cube Tray from PreKinders
7. Pom Poms in a Bottle with Tongs from PreKinders
8. Pom Pom Tea Party from It’s a Long Story
9. Seeds and Tweezers from PreKinders
10. Tongs and Marbles on a Bath Mat from Play Based Learning
11. Tongs and Bath Toys from i’m going to make it (after all)
Around the House
12. Pick up dirty clothes with tongs and place in laundry basket
13. Go on a toy scavenger hunt with tongs and a bag/basket
14. Feed the family pet (e.g., dog, fish) using tongs
15. Clean up bath toys with tongs and put in a bag or bucket
The Great Outdoors
16. Collect pieces of nature (leaves, sticks, etc.) with tongs and put in a bag or bucket
Games and Puzzles
17. Stack blocks while using tongs from Embrace Your Chaos
18. Tong Jenga
19. Use tongs to move game pieces while playing board games from Embrace Your Chaos
20. Use tongs or chip clips to pick up puzzle pieces that have tiny knobs on top from Embrace Your Chaos
Games with Names
21. Bed Bugs from Amazon.com
22. Operation from Amazon.com
23. Hungry Dog from Amazon.com
24. Hungry Monkey from Amazon.com
25. Hungry Bunny from Amazon.com
26. Wok and Roll from Amazon.com
27. Scatterpillar Scramble from Amazon.com
In the Kitchen
28. Use tongs to pull toast out of the toaster
29. Use tongs to help serve foods at mealtime such as fruits, veggies, pasta, and salad
30. Eat with tongs (salad, pasta, meat, popcorn, etc.)
31. Complete crafts while using tongs or tweezers (e.g., placing items like beans, dry macaroni, cotton balls, pom poms, balls of tissue paper, etc. onto glue) from Embrace Your Chaos
32. Beans on a Tiger with Tweezers from Lessons Learnt Journal
33. Pom Pom Tong Art from It’s a Long Story
34. Winter Crafts with Tongs from Embrace Your Chaos
35. Wizard Hat Craft with Tongs from Embrace Your Chaos
36. Perler Beads with Tweezers from christiekiley
37. Pom Pom Muffin Tin Sorting from Childcare Land
38. Math with Tongs from PreKinders
39. Beads and Numbers in an Egg Carton from Mrs. Kelly’s Kindergarten
40. Rainbow Beads in an Egg Carton from Katy Lane
41. AB Pattern in an Egg Carton from Katy Lane
42. Sensory Bin Fun with Tongs from Embrace Your Chaos
43. Tongs, Teddy Bear Counters, and Water from We Can Do All Things
44. Water Table Tongs from The Activity Mom
45. iPad Chopsticks from Therapy Fun Zone
46. Bug Tongs from christiekiley (for bugs or something less gross…like balls of playdough…your call)
47. Straw Tweezers from Teach Preschool
48. Gator Grabber Tweezers from Achievement Products for Special Needs
49. Squinkies and Zinkies from Therapy Fun Zone
50. Edison Training/Helper Chopsticks from Therapy Fun Zone
. . . . .
Share your ideas below for more fun ways to play with tongs!
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In addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with MamaOT.com is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!
. . . . .Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.